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Aaron Callaghan: My 2016 League of Ireland predictions

Election 2016 is upon us and people are deciding on the makeup of the next government.

We have heard what the politicians have had to say for themselves and now it’s up to us as a nation to cast our votes.

Personally I think a change is needed and the new government can start addressing major issues in health and housing.

A couple weeks to the big Airtricty League kick off and in my opinion there will not be any change in the outcome of the 2016 campaign.

Punters are predicting a Dundalk three in a row.

I have to admit I’m one of them having experienced their machine in operation during our pre-season friendly against my new club Waterford Utd. Oh how the other half lives.

They are the Harlem Globetrotters of this league and with the addition of their new signings they will be very hard to beat.

Watch out for a revitalised Patrick McEleney who has the skill and vision to excite fans up and down the Country. His career stalled at Derry but Dundalk will benefit from his new found fitness and confidence.

Robbie Benson is another new addition from my old club UCD and to date his pre-season has been hampered by niggling injuries but he is a natural fit to the system Stephen Kenny deploys.

John Caulfield has signed well this summer and with Greg Bolger pulling the strings in midfield they will be knocking on the door again. Cork doesn’t have the firepower of Dundalk but they will be very hard to beat again.

I haven’t seen a lot of Shamrock Rovers due to their pre-season adventure in India but I believe they will be much more competitive this year and in Dean Clarke they have added pace to their attack.

Liam Buckley has been the busiest manager during the off season, totally revamping his entire midfield with the addition of David Cawley, Graham Kelly, Keith Treacy and Dylan McGlade but I think his best signing will be a fit and firing Dinny Corcoran. Dinny has a knack for poaching goals and with Christy Fagan still at the club Bucko could opt for a change in formation.

Bray have spent well I just hope they continue to pay their way and I don’t see Mick Cooke’s team struggling this campaign.

Derry and Sligo with new managers Kenny Shields and Dave Robertson in the dugout have signed a mixture of seasoned campaigners and new players to the league. They will provide stiff opposition to the top clubs but their best bet for silverware this year will be through the cup competitions.

At the bottom I can’t see Wexford and Finn Harps staying up and their lack of experience and full time status at this level will prove to be their downfall.

Bohs will be in a good position now that the Council have finalised the deal to take control of Dalymount Park. I’m glad I could play a small part in this process. Keith Long will have a bigger budget than normal and I see the club continuing its rebuilding programme on and off the park. Best wishes must also go to Chris Brien and Tommy Hynes with the launch of the Bohemian Foundation. The foundation will work in partnership with the local community to increase the profile of the club.

Longford and Galway will be battling to stay mid table and if they were offered this position before a ball is kicked Tony Cousins and Tommy Dunne would bite your hand off.

The first division will be a war of attrition. I can’t see much between the clubs with Limerick and Shels starting out as favourites.

I’m delighted to be back involved with Roddy at Waterford United and we have been working hard in pre-season to prepare our young squad for the battles ahead.

On a brighter note it’s good to see the FAI doubling the prize pot but I would rather see them invest this money in clubs infrastructures particularly in the development of training facilities. With the outcome of the election still in the balance there will be a familiar look to the premier league table at the end of the season.

My predictions Dundalk champions again with Shamrock Rovers, Cork City, St. Pats fighting for the European competitions.

Wexford Youths and Finn Harps to struggle and Bohs to win a cup.

I can’t call the first division in case I’m accused of insider trading.

Best of luck to all clubs and supporters. May the force be with you.

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